Anatomy of Murder identifies and explores three basic fictional forms dealing with murder and detection—mystery, detective, and crime fiction. Mystery fiction takes place in a centered world, one whose most distinctive characteristic is motivation. Covering the forms of murder fiction, the book examines texts by Doyle, Christie, Sayers, Hammett, Chandler, Highsmith, Jim Thompson, Thomas Harris, and others.
In Chemical Crimes: Science and Poison in Victorian Crime Fiction, Cheryl Blake Price delves into the dark world of Victorian criminality to examine how poison allowed authors to disrupt gender boundaries, genre, and the professionalization of science. Tracing the role of the chemical crime through the works of Letitia Elizabeth Landon, Ellen Wood, Edward Bulwer Lytton, L. T. Meade, Charles Warren Adams, and Wilkie Collins, Price argues that poison this intervention not only provided a useful tool for authors to challenge the growing power of science but also that its fluid nature and ability to mix, mingle, and transcend boundaries made it ideal for generic experimentation.
From the Newgate and Silver Fork novels of the 1830s to the emergent genres of science and detective fiction of the 1890s, Price advocates for the classification of a new type of poisoner, one who combined crime with methodical scientific know-how: the chemical criminal. Chemical Crimes shows how authors used the subversiveness of chemical crimes to challenge the supposed disciplinary force of forensic detection and suggests that generic developments were inspired as much by criminal scientific innovation as they were by the rise of the detective–scientist. By focusing on chemical crime’s appearance at significant moments, this book traces how reactions to Victorian science inspired change in nineteenth-century crime fiction.
Nadya Aisenberg discusses the potentialities of the crime novel, its implications, principles, and scope, and its analogy ot myth and the fairy tale. She proposes that the detective story and the thriller have made an unacknowledged contribution to "serious" literature. Her discussion of Dickens, Conrad, and Green indicate that each borrowed many important ingredients from the formulaic novel.
An intellectual tour de force from one of today’s leading critics of Latin American literature and culture, The Corpus Delicti (The Body of Crime) is a manual of crime, a compendium of crime tales, and an extended meditation on the central role of crime in literature, in life, and in the life of the nation.
Drawing her examples from canonical texts, popular novels, newspaper serials, and more, Josefina Ludmer captures the wide range of Argentine crime stories and detective fiction from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She offers more than a mere genre study, examining the relationship of crime and punishment to the formation of law, the body, and the modern state, exposing the ways in which literature—both high art and mass culture—can help construct, not just represent, social reality.
Covering a dazzling array of primary sources, social history, and cultural theory, this provocative work is also a structural masterpiece, challenging readers as it charts new roles for text and notes. In this redefined dialogue, the notes variously offer alternate views, additional insights, and, often, parallel commentaries. Glen Close’s stylish translation captures the energy of Ludmer’s prose—simultaneously subtle and daring—for English-language readers.
When Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee, Tony Hillerman’s oddly matched tribal police officers, patrol the mesas and canyons of their Navajo reservation, they join a rich traditon of Southwestern detectives. In Crime Fiction and Film in the Southwest, a group of literary critics tracks the mystery and crime novel from the Painted Desert to Death Valley and Salt Lake City. In addition, the book includes the first comprehensive bibliography of mysteries set in the Southwest and a chapter on Southwest film noir from Humphrey Bogart’s tough hood in The Petrified Forest to Russell Crowe’s hard-nosed cop in L.A. Confidential.
Over the last few decades, Victorian scholars have produced many nuanced studies connecting the politics of crime to the generic developments of the novel—and vice versa. Ellen L. O’Brien’s Crime in Verse grants the same attention and status to poetic representations of crime. Considering the literary achievements and cultural engagements of poetry while historicizing murder’s entanglement in legal fictions, punitive practices, medical theories, class conflicts, and gender codes, O’Brien argues that shifting approaches to poetry and conflicted understandings of murder allowed poets to align problems of legal and literary interpretation in provocative, disruptive, and innovative ways.
Developing focused analyses of generic and discursive meanings, individual chapters examine the classed politics of crime and punishment in the broadside ballad, the epistemological tensions of homicidal lunacy and criminal responsibility in the dramatic monologue, and the legal and ideological frictions of domestic violence in the verse novel and verse drama. Their juxtaposition of the rhymes of anonymous street balladeers, the underexamined verse of “minor” poets, and the familiar poems of canonical figures suggests the interactive and intertextual relationships informing poetic agendas and political arguments. As it simultaneously reconsiders the institutional and ideological status of murder and the aesthetic and political interests of poetry, Crime in Verse offers new ways of thinking about Victorian poetry’s contents and contexts.
In Gumshoe America Sean McCann offers a bold new account of the hard-boiled crime story and its literary and political significance. Illuminating a previously unnoticed set of concerns at the heart of the fiction, he contends that mid-twentieth-century American crime writers used the genre to confront and wrestle with many of the paradoxes and disappointments of New Deal liberalism. For these authors, the same contradictions inherent in liberal democracy were present within the changing literary marketplace of the mid-twentieth-century United States: the competing claims of the elite versus the popular, the demands of market capitalism versus conceptions of quality, and the individual versus a homogenized society. Gumshoe America traces the way those problems surfaced in hard-boiled crime fiction from the1920s through the 1960s. Beginning by using a forum on the KKK in the pulp magazine Black Mask to describe both the economic and political culture of pulp fiction in the early twenties, McCann locates the origins of the hard-boiled crime story in the genre’s conflict with the racist antiliberalism prominent at the time. Turning his focus to Dashiell Hammett’s career, McCann shows how Hammett’s writings in the late 1920s and early 1930s moved detective fiction away from its founding fables of social compact to the cultural alienation triggered by a burgeoning administrative state. He then examines how Raymond Chandler’s fiction, unlike Hammett’s, idealized sentimental fraternity, echoing the communitarian appeals of the late New Deal. Two of the first crime writers to publish original fiction in paperback—Jim Thompson and Charles Willeford—are examined next in juxtaposition to the popularity enjoyed by their contemporaries Mickey Spillane and Ross Macdonald. The stories of the former two, claims McCann, portray the decline of the New Deal and the emergence of the rights-based liberalism of the postwar years and reveal new attitudes toward government: individual alienation, frustration with bureaucratic institutions, and dissatisfaction with the growing vision of America as a meritocracy. Before concluding, McCann turns to the work of Chester Himes, who, in producing revolutionary hard-boiled novels, used the genre to explore the changing political significance of race that accompanied the rise of the Civil Rights movement in the late 1950s and the 1960s. Combining a striking reinterpretation of the hard-boiled crime story with a fresh view of the political complications and cultural legacies of the New Deal, Gumshoe America will interest students and fans of the genre, and scholars of American history, culture, and government.
Erin A. Smith Temple University Press, 2000 Library of Congress PS374.D4S65 2000 | Dewey Decimal 813.087209052
In the 1920s a distinctively American detective fiction emerged from the pages of pulp magazines. The “hard-boiled” stories published in Black Mask, Dime Detective, Detective Fiction Weekly, and Clues featured a new kind of hero and soon challenged the popularity of the British mysteries that held readers in thrall on both sides of the Atlantic. In Hard-Boiled Erin A. Smith examines the culture that produced and supported this form of detective story through the 1940s.
Relying on pulp magazine advertising, the memoirs of writers and publishers, Depression-era studies of adult reading habits, social and labor history, Smith offers an innovative account of how these popular stories were generated and read. She shows that although the work of pulp fiction authors like Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Erle Stanley Gardner have become “classics” of popular culture, the hard-boiled genre was dominated by hack writers paid by the word, not self-styled artists. Pulp magazine editors and writers emphasized a gritty realism in the new genre. Unlike the highly rational and respectable British protagonists (Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, for instance), tough-talking American private eyes relied as much on their fists as their brains as they made their way through tangled plotlines.
Casting working-class readers of pulp fiction as “poachers,” Smith argues that they understood these stories as parables about Taylorism, work, and manhood; as guides to navigating consumer culture; as sites for managing anxieties about working women. Engaged in re-creating white, male privilege for the modern, heterosocial world, pulp detective fiction shaped readers into consumers by selling them what they wanted to hear – stories about manly artisan-heroes who resisted encroaching commodity culture and the female consumers who came with it. Commenting on the genre’s staying power, Smith considers contemporary detective fiction by women, minority, and gay and lesbian writers.
This brilliant and insightful contribution to cultural studies investigates the role of literature—particularly the novel—and visual arts in the development of institutions. Arguing the attitudes expressed in narrative literature and art between 1719 and 1779 helped bring about the change from traditional prisons to penitentiaries, John Bender offers studies of Robinson Crusoe, Moll Flanders, The Beggar's Opera, Hogarth's Progresses, Jonathan Wild, and Amelia as well as illustrations from prison literature, art, and architecture in support of his thesis.
Since the mid-1960s, the war on crime has reshaped public attitudes about state authority, criminal behavior, and the responsibilities of citizenship. But how have American writers grappled with these changes? What happens when a journalist approaches the workings of organized crime not through its legendary Godfathers but through a workaday, low-level figure who informs on his mob? Why is it that interrogation scenes have become so central to prime-time police dramas of late? What is behind writers’ recent fascination with “cold case” homicides, with private security, or with prisons?
In Learning to Live with Crime, Christopher P. Wilson examines this war on crime and how it has made its way into cultural representation and public consciousness. Under the sway of neoconservative approaches to criminal justice and public safety, Americans have been urged to see crime as an inevitable risk of modern living and to accept ever more aggressive approaches to policing, private security, and punishment. The idea has been not simply to fight crime but to manage its risks; to inculcate personal vigilance in citizens; and to incorporate criminals’ knowledge through informants and intelligence gathering. At its most scandalous, this study suggests, contemporary law enforcement has even come to mimic crime’s own operations.
Accounts of women's transgressive behavior in eighteenth-century literature and social documents have much to teach us about constructions of femininity during the period often identified as having formed our society's gender norms. Lewd and Notorious explores the eighteenth century's shadows, inhabited by marginal women of many kinds and degrees of contrariness. The reader meets Laetitia Pilkington, whose sexual indiscretions caused her to fall from social and literary grace to become an articulate memoirist of personal scandal, and Elizabeth Brownrigg, who tortured and starved her young servants, propelling herself to an infamy comparable to Susan Smith's or Myra Hindley's. More awful women wait between these covers to teach us about society's reception (and construction) of their debauchery and dangerousness.
The authors draw upon a rich range of contemporary texts to illuminate the lives of these women. Astute analysis of literary, legal, evangelical, epistolary, and political documents provides an understanding of 1700s womanhood. From lusty old maids to murderous mistresses, the characters who exemplify this period's vision of women on the edge are essential acquaintances for anyone wishing to understand the development and ramifications of conceptions of femininity.
In Murder on the Reservation, Ray B. Browne surveys the work of several of the best-known writers of crime fiction involving Indian characters and references virtually every book that qualifies as an Indian-related mystery. Browne believes that within the genre of crime fiction all people are equal, and the increasing role of Indian characters in criminal fiction proves what an important role this genre plays as a powerful democratizing force in American society. He endeavors to both analyze and evaluate the individual work of the authors, and at the same time, provide a commentary on the various attitudes towards race relations in the United States that each author presents. Some Indian fiction is intended to right the wrongs the authors feel have been leveled against Indians. Other authors use Indian lore and Indian locales as exotic elements and locations for the entertaining and commercially successful stories they want to write. Browne’s analysis includes authors and works of all backgrounds, with mysteries of first-class murder both on and off the reservation.
Mysteries of Africa
Eugene Schleh University of Wisconsin Press, 1991 Library of Congress PN3448.D4M956 1991 | Dewey Decimal 809.3872
The roles of Africans have changed over time in detective/mystery fiction, reflecting their changing real roles in the continent. These studies provide an entertaining way to follow that changed reality.
Owners of mystery bookshops will tell you that there are several sorts of buyers: those who purchase on impulse or whim; genre addicts who buy paperbacks by the week and by the armful; and those who have caught up on canonical texts and regularly buy new novels by select authors in hardcover. Richard B. Schwartz belongs in the last group, with his own list of approximately seventy favorite writers.
Nice and Noir: Contemporary American Crime Fiction explores the work of these writers, building upon a reading of almost seven hundred novels from the 1980s and 1990s. By looking at recurring themes in these mysteries, Schwartz offers readers new ways to approach the works in relation to contemporary cultural concerns.
With sensitivity to a culture consisting of frontiers and borders, Schwartz examines the position of the vigilante in art and society, racial bridges and divides, the absence of divine presence and compensating narrative strategies, the unresolved nature of the crime plot and its roots in chivalric romance. The special importance of setting and the growing importance of grotesque humor in the fiction studied here are addressed by the author, as is the journalistic/instructional dimension of the field and the importance of crossover narratives.
This book is not only a study and appreciation of an important subgenre and its contemporary practitioners; it also utilizes both literary history and theoretical material. Information has been drawn from fanzines, from discussions with writers, booksellers, agents, and editors, and from the author’s own extensive knowledge of literature and American culture.
Nice and Noir is wide-ranging but neither ponderous nor lugubrious. Its language is accessible but not simplistic. The book will have a broad appeal—both to academics and to general readers with some interest in American studies and popular culture.
"Lush sex and stark violence colored Black and served up raw by a great Negro writer," promised the cover of Run Man Run, Chester Himes' pioneering novel in the black crime fiction tradition. In Pimping Fictions, Justin Gifford provides a hard-boiled investigation of hundreds of pulpy paperbacks written by Himes, Donald Goines, and Iceberg Slim (aka Robert Beck), among many others.
Gifford draws from an impressive array of archival materials to provide a first-of-its-kind literary and cultural history of this distinctive genre. He evaluates the artistic and symbolic representations of pimps, sex-workers, drug dealers, and political revolutionaries in African American crime literature-characters looking to escape the racial containment of prisons and the ghetto.
Gifford also explores the struggles of these black writers in the literary marketplace, from the era of white-owned publishing houses like Holloway House-that fed books and magazines like Players to eager black readers-to the contemporary crop of African American women writers reclaiming the genre as their own.
American crime fiction has developed into writing that has a commitment to democracy and the democratic way of life, a compassion and empathy and a style which has created a significant branch of American literature.
In the world of crime fiction, Arthur W. Upfield stands among the giants. His detective-inspector Napoleon Bonaparte, is one of the most memorable of all crime fighters. Upfield was an independent, fiercely self-assertive ex-Britisher, who loved Australia, especially the Outback. In many ways Upfield became Outback Australia—the “Spirit of Australia.”
Library of Congress subject headings for this publication:
Upfield, Arthur William, -- 1888-1964 -- Criticism and interpretation.
Detective and mystery stories, Australian -- History and criticism.
Bonaparte, Napoleon, Inspector (Fictitious character)
National characteristics, Australian, in literature.
Australia -- In literature.
Police in literature.
Crime in literature.